Best Tips For A Summer Road Trip With Your Dog

Jun 19, 2024

There’s nothing quite like the open road in the summer, the wind in your hair, and your favorite tunes playing as you head out on a new adventure! And when your furry best friend is riding beside you, it’s even better. Whether it’s exploring new hiking trails, discovering hidden beaches, or simply enjoying the scenic routes, having your dog by your side makes every moment just more fun! Here are some of our favorite tips for road trips with dogs. 

Before You Hit The Road

Before hitting the road with your canine companion, you do want to make sure their health is in top shape. If you’re crossing state lines, you may need a health certificate, and that may include making sure vaccinations are up to date.

Additionally, make sure they’re on a nutrient diet that supports their immune system and energy levels. Check their joints and muscles, especially if they’re prone to issues, and consider natural supplements for their best joint health. If your dog is anxious, don’t forget to stock up on any herbal remedies or essential oils you use regularly. The healthier and calmer they are on the trip, the smoother and more enjoyable it will be for you both!

Packing For Your Dog-Friendly Road Trip

When it comes to packing for your summer road trip, you want to make sure you have everything they need. Here’s a detailed checklist to make sure you have everything covered:

Food and Water

  • Portable Bowls: Collapsible bowls are great for saving space and easy feeding on the go. Take a little dish soap with you as well so you can wash them as you stop. 
  • Enough Supplies: Pack enough of your dog’s regular food to last the entire trip, plus a bit extra in case of delays. Same goes for treats and supplements.
  • Water: Bring bottled water or a refillable container. Believe it or not, sudden changes in water can upset your dog’s stomach, so consistency is best if you can make it so.

Medications and First Aid Kit

  • Supplements and Medications: Make sure you have all the supplements (and medicines if you have them) your dog will need for the trip, plus enough for a few extra days just in case.  
  • Dog First Aid Kit: Include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, tweezers (for ticks), and any other specific items your vet recommends. Consider adding natural remedies like aloe vera or silver for minor cuts and bruises. Electrolyte water or broth isn’t a bad idea either.

Comfort Items

  • Blanket: Bring a familiar blanket to provide comfort and a sense of security in new environments–whether hotels or tents, a blanket from home makes them feel secure.
  • Favorite Toy: A favorite toy can help keep your dog entertained and reduce anxiety during the trip. Again, it’s about helping them feel familiar, even with the unfamiliar.

Leash, Harness, and Waste Bags

  • Leash and Harness: Make sure they are sturdy and comfortable. A harness is generally safer for travel as it provides more control. The last thing you want is for your dog to bolt into an unfamiliar place.
  • Waste Bags: Pack plenty of waste bags for clean-up during bathroom breaks. There may be more than normal as you’re traveling, so be prepared.


  • Tags with Current Info: Make sure your dog’s ID tags are updated with your current contact information. A leash with your info isn’t a bad idea either.
  • Microchip: Verify that your dog’s microchip information is up to date in the registry.

Additional Tips

  • Grooming Supplies: Bring a brush, especially if your dog sheds a lot, to keep them comfortable and your car cleaner. Bring a pair of scissors if you have a long-haired dog; you never know what they’ll pick up in their fur.
  • Weather Protection: If you’re traveling to an area with different weather, pack accordingly. This might include a doggy sweater for colder climates or cooling mats for hot destinations. 
  • Natural Calming Aids: Consider packing natural calming aids like CBD, Valerian, Ashwagandha, or PassionFlower which can help soothe your dog during stressful moments.

Safety Tips For Road Trips With DogsFeatured: A Labrador Retriever sniffs out the window on a road trip.

Keeping Them Safe In The Car

Making sure your dog is properly restrained in the car is not only about their safety but also about yours. We know, we know…that great mental picture of your dog hanging out the window and smiling happily down the road is tempting. The truth is, though, keeping them restrained properly in the car really is the safest. Here are some tips to keep your furry friend secure and comfortable:

  1. Pet Seat Belt:
    • Use a Pet Seat Belt: These attach to your dog’s harness and click into the regular seat belt buckle. They prevent your dog from moving around too much and provide protection in case of sudden stops.
    • Harness Fit: Ensure the harness fits snugly but comfortably. It should be padded to avoid chafing and designed to distribute force evenly across your dog’s body in case of a sudden stop.
  2. Crate or Carrier:
    • Choose the Right Size: The crate or carrier should be large enough for your dog to stand, turn around, and lie down comfortably, but not so large that they can be tossed around inside.
    • Secure Placement: Place the crate in the back seat or cargo area of your vehicle. Use straps or bungee cords to secure it, preventing it from sliding or tipping over during the trip.
    • Ventilation: Ensure the crate is well-ventilated. If it’s a hot day, avoid covering the crate with blankets or other materials that might restrict airflow.
  3. Comfort and Security:
    • Familiar Bedding: Line the crate or carrier with your dog’s favorite blanket or bed to provide comfort and a sense of familiarity.
    • Toys: Include a chew toy or a stuffed toy to keep your dog entertained and help reduce anxiety.
  4. Training:
    • Acclimate Your Dog: If your dog is not used to a seat belt, crate, or carrier, start getting them accustomed to it well before your trip. Gradually increase the time they spend restrained to help them feel more comfortable. It’ll make it easier for you both!

Additional Road Trip Tips For Comfort

Take Frequent Breaks

Plan to stop every 2-3 hours. Just do it. It’s best for your dog. These regular breaks allow your dog (and you!) to stretch their legs, hydrate, and take care of business, helping to prevent accidents and stiffness. The stops are not just about physical relief but also help keep your dog relaxed and happy. During these breaks, let your dog stretch, walk around, and enjoy some playtime. This is an excellent way to break up the trip and give your dog a mental and physical boost. You might even find you like the breaks just as much!

Safe Car Rides

Avoid feeding your dog right before you hit the road to minimize the risk of motion sickness. It’s best to give them their meal at least 2-3 hours before departure. Once on the road, keep the car well-ventilated and at a comfortable temperature. Use sunshades on windows and, if it’s safe to do so, crack open a window for fresh air. And though you may know this, remember to NEVER leave your dog unattended in the car, especially on hot days, as temperatures can rise quickly and cause heatstroke.

Finding Dog-Friendly Accommodations

Finding the right place to stay is maybe the most important part of your summer road trip. You want someplace that’s enjoyable for both you and your dog. Here’s how to make sure your accommodations are comfortable and pet-friendly:

Pet-Friendly Lodging

  • Research and Book Ahead: Plan your stops in advance and book pet-friendly hotels or vacation rentals. Websites like BringFido, Petswelcome, and Airbnb offer listings specifically for pet-friendly accommodations.
  • Check Pet Policies and Fees: Different places have different rules and fees for pets. Some might have size restrictions, breed restrictions, or additional cleaning fees. Make sure to read the fine print and understand the policies before booking.

Comfort in New Environments

  • Familiar Bedding and Toys: Bring along your dog’s favorite blanket, bed, and toys. Familiar items can provide comfort and help your dog feel more at home in a new environment.
  • Maintain a Routine: Try to stick to your dog’s regular feeding, walking, and sleeping schedule as much as possible. Keeping a routine can help reduce stress and make the transition to new surroundings smoother for your 

Planning ahead and ensuring your accommodations are pet-friendly and comfortable will create a more enjoyable experience for both you and your dog during your summer road trip.

Enjoying the Journey with Your DogPhoto: A woman holds her Terrier as theyre about to take a road trip together.

A summer road trip with your dog is all about the journey and being together. Here are some great resource sites to plan your trip and fun dog-friendly activities:

Dog-Friendly Destinations

Plan Visits to Dog Parks, Beaches, and Hiking Trails: Research and plan your stops at dog-friendly parks, beaches, and hiking trails along your route. Websites like BringFido, DogFriendly, GoPetFriendly, and AllTrails offer extensive listings of dog-friendly places and activities. Here are a few additional sites dog parents swear by:

  • Petswelcome: Lists pet-friendly hotels, vacation rentals, and travel tips.
  • Airbnb: Use filters to find pet-friendly rentals and hosts who welcome dogs.
  • VRBO: Search for vacation rentals that allow pets.
  • TripAdvisor: Look for reviews and ratings of pet-friendly hotels and attractions.
  • National Park Service: Information on national parks that allow dogs and pet policies.
  • Google Maps: Search for nearby dog parks, trails, and pet-friendly businesses.

Be sure to choose activities that match your dog’s fitness level. For older dogs or those with joint issues, opt for shorter, flatter trails or easy beach walks. For energetic dogs, look for more challenging hikes and off-leash dog parks. In unfamiliar places, always keep your dog on a leash to ensure their safety. This helps prevent them from getting lost, encountering wildlife, or running into dangerous situations.

And don’t forget, dogs can overheat quickly, especially in the summer. Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day, provide plenty of water, and take frequent breaks in the shade. Avoid hot surfaces like asphalt that can burn your dog’s paws.

Most importantly, HAVE FUN! Enjoy the scenic views and activities you participate in together. It’ll be a fun and memorable time for both you and your dog–and that’s what summer road trips are all about!


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